Award-winning dance company, Ballet Black, returns to Oxford Playhouse on Friday 1 November 2019 with a triple bill of bold and inventive choreography.

The exciting programme contrasts inventive story telling in a lively showcase of three modern ballets, commissioned especially for Ballet Black. Ingoma (song) by company dancer and choreographer Mthuthuzeli November, is a fusion of ballet, African dance and singing. This world premiere and Barbican co-commission portrays a milestone in South African history and imagines the struggles of black South African miners and their families in 1946 – when 60,000 of them took courageous strike action.

The second ballet is a revival of Martin Lawrance’s Pendulum, an intimate duo premiered in 2009, and the choreographer’s first work for the company. CLICK!, an original, up-beat piece by Scottish Ballet’s chorographer-in-residence Sophie Laplane, also a world premiere, completes the triple bill.

Performance:  Friday 1st November 8.00pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, 11-12 Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets: £10 to £25 | Discounts available  Book online here or call the Box Office on 01865 305305

Age guideline: 7+ (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company opened their show at the New Theatre, Oxford with Martin Lawrance’s energetic and fast paced creation Detour, which was followed by six pieces by Alston himself. Lawrance leaves interpretation to the audience: according to the programme, he named his piece because he started with one idea, which changed as he worked, but he leaves it to the dance to reveal what those ideas were. Performed to a recorded marimba and percussion soundtrack, its zippy pirouettes and sharp split jetés interspersed with leaps into dramatic embraces displayed the company’s virtuosity, while suggesting an underlying theme of conflict.

Richard Alston’s own programme notes offer more clues to the thoughts, images, and circumstances that lie behind his dances. (more…)

Richard Alston has been making dance for 50 years and launched his Richard Alston Dance Company 25 years ago. Both these anniversaries deserve celebrating with a special programme full of trademark lyrical choreography, new lively dances and revivals of successful works. With the announcement of the company closing in 2020, this tour will also be the penultimate chance to see a live performance by what is undoubtedly one of the world’s best dance ensembles.

Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance will premiere his new work Detour set to Michael Gordon’s pulsing Timber with costumes by Jeffry Rogador and lighting by Zeynep Kepekli setting off Lawrance’s customary fast paced style and complicated patterns through space.

This piece will accompany a celebratory revival of Proverb, one of Alston’s most telling choreographies, to the serene and cool vocal work of Steve Reich washing over intricately complex dancing. Created in 2006 as part of Reich’s seventieth birthday celebrations at London’s Barbican, this is the first time the piece has been revived.

Culminating the evening will be Richard Alston’s exciting new work Brahms Hungarian. The hugely popular Brahms pieces, music that Alston had planned on choreographing to for years, will be played live onstage by RADC’s outstanding pianist Jason Ridgway. Full of passionate drive and joyful gusto, the dancers are carried along by fast steps and an abandoned fervour. Costumes are by award-winning designer Fotini Dimou with lighting by Zeynep Kepekli, both regular collaborators of Alston.

Performance:  Thursday 7th February 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre, George St, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £13 – £26.90 Book online here

Find out more about the company here

Cut and RunChoreographer: Martin Lawrance

The fierce cut and jib of this work was evident from the first moment: music and movement battled for dominance, both rhythmic and rigorous. The choreography had a disjointed quality; the many pauses – some fleeting and others broad – prevented a sense of fluid motion. However this suited the music, which had pounding yet uneven rhythms and was often a cacophony of sound. The dancers rarely moved together; instead they seemed to fight, to exist alone, and to defy and reject each other. The level of technical command was impressive: each movement (or sudden stillness) was precise and controlled, and the dancers negotiated dizzying transitions between standing, lying, rolling and turning. (more…)

Richard Alston Dance Company returned to Oxford this week for one evening at the New Theatre. The programme opened with Martin Lawrance’s Cut and Run, to music by Michael Gordon and Damian LeGassick for ten dancers dressed in ‘urban wear’ with metallic decoration that glinted in the dim light. Starting and stopping, dodging and colliding, they broke out of the purple patch of illumination that seemed at first to confine them, and spread across the darkened stage. An interval of silence, then the lights changed to orange, adding a fresh sense of urgency to their frantic race, until the work concluded, with the dancers once more bathed in a purple glow. (more…)

The ever musical Richard Alston Dance Company returns to Oxford with a full programme of new and established works packed full of energy and contrasts, featuring a brand new piece by Associate Choreographer Martin Lawrance alongside two by Richard Alston.

In Cut and Run Lawrance takes his inspiration from contrasting music by two contemporary classical composers, Damian Legassick and Michael Gordon, from the Icebreaker album Terminal Velocity. The fast frenetic rhythms of the music with cool sombre undertones, take the dancers into a world of shadows and swift dodges.  The costumes for Cut and Run have been designed by Filipino fashion designer Jeffery Rogador with whom Lawrance collaborated whilst working with Ballet Manila last year. They have an urban edge and a colour palette of black, silver and gold which the lighting designer Zeynep Kepekli will make shimmer on stage with her beautiful use of light.

The programme also includes Carnaval by Alston, performed to Robert Schumann’s music of the same name, played live by outstanding pianist Faith Leadbetter.  Costumes are by BAFTA Award winning designer Fotini Dimou.

Finally a great Alston favourite, Gypsy Mixture, newly revived for the first time in a decade, set to tracks from Electric Gypsyland – a 21st century take on traditional Balkan folk music. Exhilarating dancing to the infectious music of Romanian and Macedonian gypsy bands will lift your spirits and quicken your pulse.

“Sometimes dance fills the eyes with tears, changes our breathing or makes us laugh — but why? The dancers aren’t depicting emotion, yet we find ourselves powerfully moved… the dancers of the Richard Alston Dance Company… caused a gamut of emotion, just by taking us to the heart of dance itself.”
Alistair Macaulay, The New York Times, February 2017.

Performance:  Tuesday 20th February, 7.30pm

Venue:  New Theatre, George Street, Oxford OX1 2AG

Tickets:  £11.90 – £25.90 plus £2.85 transaction fee

Available online here or call 0844 871 3020

This autumn the dynamic, dazzling and delightful Ballet Black returns to Oxford Playhouse with a fresh triple bill of dances.  Artistic Director Cassa Pancho once again commissions bold choreography, blending the classical and contemporary, narrative and abstract, for a company comprising British and international dancers of black and Asian descent.

A four-hander characterised by intricate detail and propulsive energy, Captured ebbs and flows to the fiery emotion of Martin Lawrance’s edgy choreography, set to a Shostakovich string quartet. First premiered in 2012, Captured was an instant audience and critical success.  French choreographer, Ludovic Ondiviela, presents Dopamine (you make my levels go silly), a beautiful pas de deux about love, lust and passion, with an original score created by acclaimed British composer, Fabio D’Andrea.  South Bank Sky Arts Award-winner Annabelle Lopez Ochoa turns a popular fairy tale on its head, as Red Riding Hood is given a surprising twist.

“Dash, daring and joie-de-vivre”  The Guardian

“A funny, gutsy spin on the traditional fairytale that’s clearly a riot to dance”  The Guardian on Red Riding Hood

Performance:  Wednesday 4th October,  7.30pm

Venue:  Oxford Playhouse, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2LW

Tickets:  £10 – £25 available from the Ticket Office on 01865 305305 or book online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Age guideline: 7 years plus

Find out more about Ballet Black here

Read Susie Crow’s review of their previous performance at the Oxford Playhouse in 2016  here